ScienceNASA's Artemis 1 moon mission will carry the world's 1st deep-space biology...

NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission will carry the world’s 1st deep-space biology experiment

NASA’s next rocket launch will have a few hitchhikers onboard. 

When the Artemis 1 mission launches, currently scheduled for Aug. 29, the new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will take to the moon not only NASA’s next-generation Orion capsule, but also 10 tiny cubesats. One of those cubesats is the BioSentinel mission, which will be the first long-duration biology experiment in deep space. (Biology experiments have thus far been limited to the Earth-moon system.) The cubesat, which is carrying yeast cells, will enter an orbit around the sun similar to that of Earth’s. From there, scientists will study how space radiation affects yeast cells.

“BioSentinel is the first of its kind,” Matthew Napoli, BioSentinel project manager at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, said in a statement. “It will carry living organisms farther into space than ever before. That’s really cool!”

Related: NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission explained in photos

Space radiation forms when atoms travel so quickly they lose their electrons, leaving behind just the nucleus, according to NASA. The agency calls such a particle “an atomic-scale cannonball” because of the damage radiation can cause. Earth’s magnetic field protects most humans from space radiation, which can otherwise cause cancer and other diseases.

And when astronauts leave low Earth orbit for long-duration missions, they’ll be left exposed, hence NASA’s interest in studying radiation and its impacts. The BioSentinel mission is part of this research. Because yeast cells have similar biological mechanisms as human cells — perhaps most importantly, both organisms carry genetic information in double strands of DNA — they can serve as a test subject for radiation experiments to demonstrate what might happen to humans in a similar situation. 

A microfluidics card that will fly on BioSentinel holding yeast. (Image credit: NASA/Dominic Hart)

Related stories:

The yeast cells will begin their journey dry, housed in small cards stored aboard the cubesat. As Artemis 1 blasts toward the moon, BioSentinel will part ways and enter its deep-space orbit around the sun. Once the cubesat is out of range of Earth’s magnetic field, mission personnel will strategically activate the yeast over the course of 12 months, and the research will begin.

BioSentinel is actually one of a trio of identical experiments: one will happen aboard the International Space Station, and another will happen on Earth. With this data, scientists can compare the effects of radiation on Earth, in low Earth orbit and in deep space, helping to pave the way for crewed missions to Mars and beyond. 

Follow Stefanie Waldek on Twitter @StefanieWaldek. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Latest

‘Andor’ episode 4 soars as we finally meet the Rebels of ‘Star Wars’

The question of whether or not the next episode...

How Dutchie raised half a billion for cannabis tech on TechCrunch Live

Ross Lipson co-founded Dutchie in 2017 and has since...

The US venture capital slowdown doesn’t look that bad

This year is supposed to be a venture-capital wasteland,...

Orionid meteor shower 2022: When, where & how to see it

The Orionid meteor shower will peak between Oct. 21...

Don't miss

Andrew Tate shares ‘final message’ after being cancelled

Andrew Tate has released an hour-long "final message" via YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul in response to his ban from social media.

Addison Rae’s dad Monty Lopez loses TikTok blue checkmark

Monty Lopez really can't seem to catch a break...

Dixie D’Amelio cheated on Noah Beck with Lil Baby

Sheesh! We've got some extremely juicy cheating allegations here...

Groundbreaking AI-powered artist FN Meka signs to record label

FN Meka is the world's first AI-powered artist to sign with a major label. He has over one billion views on TikTok as the platform's top “virtual being.”

What is Hustlers University and who is Andrew Tate?

Hustlers University claims to be an online program which aims to help people make money online through 18 modern wealth creation methods.